Broad swathe of China swelters in high temperatures

FILE PHOTO: Heatwave grips China

SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) -Several regions of China including the major southwestern city of Chongqing baked in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on Saturday, while the country's national observatory continued its red alert for extreme heat.

In Zhejiang, home to many factories and exporters, a meteorological official said that the eastern province has broken its previous record for high temperature days this year, with 31 days above 35C and 16 days above 38C.

Along with Chongqing, which saw temperatures up to 42.1C on Saturday, Hubei, Hunan, Shandong, Anhui, Xinjiang, Jiangxi and Fujian were among the provinces and regions where temperatures exceeded 35C.

A thunderstorm appeared to have helped spare Shanghai from breaking its 40.9C record on Saturday, though residents of the commercial hub of 25 million still expressed fatigue from the ongoing heatwave.

"It's like being in a steamer, it's really hot," said 70-year old resident Shen Fengming. "Even if you don't walk around outside, you'll still end up sweating."

"I went to our port and walked around," said 45-year-old Huang Yi, who works at a container port. "It was just an hour, but my clothes and pants were all wet. Compared to years before, the temperature this year is particularly high."

On Saturday Shanghai's meteorological observatory reported that the city has seen 40 days with temperatures exceeding 40C this year, peaking so far on July 13 at 40.9 degrees.

Last week China's weather bureau warned that the country's average ground temperatures had risen much more quickly than the global average over the past 70 years and would remain "significantly higher" in the future as the challenges of climate change mount.

Much of Europe has seen weeks of baking temperatures, with wildfires raging in France and parts of England facing a severe drought, as successive heatwaves renewed the focus on climate change risks.

(Reporting by Xihao Jiang in Shanghai and David Kirton in Shenzhen; Editing by Michael Perry and Clelia Oziel)